Posts Tagged ‘Lebron James’

Recap: Cleveland 95, Brooklyn 91 (or it’s Mike time)

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

If I must make an obligatory nod to Miller brewing company and “Miller Time,” (as every Northeast Ohio sportswriter is tempted to do, tonight) let me just remind everyone that High Life is the champagne of beers. Now that we have that out of the way, the Cavs beat the Nets in an ugly one that saw Kevin Love go 1-10 and still have one of his best games as a Cavalier. David Blatt successfully pushed the right coaching buttons by starting Mike Miller and moving Shawn Marion to the bench. Miller scored 21 on 7-8 from three point land, while Marion added a much needed eight points off the pine. Cleveland outrebounded the Nets 44-37 and went 24-29 from the free throw line. Cleveland overcame Joe Johnson’s 26 points and 69% True Shooting and a 47% to 40% field goal percentage disparity. LeBron added some clutch fourth quarter play, and the Cavs overcame some bad crunch time offense to outlast the Nets and notch a much needed home win.

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The Point Four-ward: Flat Tops and Crazy Eyes

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

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Four points I’m thinking about the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) Two separate reports Tuesday could have bearing on the Cavs’ current search for a perimeter defender. First, Chris Haynes from Northeast Ohio Media Group (via The Plain Dealer) reported that the Cavs had moved on from attempts to trade for Minnesota swingman Corey Brewer. The Timberwolves, hit with injuries to key wing players Kevin Martin and Ricky Rubio, are now reticent to move Brewer, their best perimeter defender (though Andrew Wiggins might have something to say about that soon).

The other bit came from Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck, who reported that basically the entire New York Knicks roster has been put on the trading block. While the Knicks would prefer to part ways with J.R. Smith (Really?? Nooooo….), the Knick who might actually be a good fit with the wine and gold is fourth year shooting guard, Iman Shumpert.

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Reminder: LeBron still does impossible stuff

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Hi, it’s me. Thick in the middle of law school finals (had one today, have another tomorrow, and the last one on Friday), so time hasn’t been my friend of late. I still wanted to get in on this little bit of absurdity. The fun starts at the 2:22 mark of the video above (props, as always, to @DawkinsMTA)

Off a Kemba Walker fast-break layup, LeBron grabs the inbounds pass, gets into a full quarterback stance, and heaves the ball from just inside the Cavs’ free-throw line to Kyrie, who made a ridiculous layup in traffic. (I’m fairly sure Kyrie makes more layups off damn near the top of the backboard than anyone else in the league.) Oh, and LeBron threw that with his left hand.

It’s pretty well-known at this point that LeBron does everything but shoot a basketball left-handed, and his ability to drive and finish with his left hand has always been a vital and underrated part of what makes him great, but that’s freaking ludicrous.

As has been mentioned, LeBron’s pretty clearly past his physical prime — he’s not the holy-christ jumper he used to be, and, more importantly, he doesn’t have enough in his legs to compete on both ends for the full game the way he used to. This began in earnest last season (I said as much on this CBS.com podcast! Don’t listen to the part where I say Golden State was dramatically overvaluing Klay Thompson. Just focus on where I say LeBron is past his physical prime. I am so often wrong.), especially the defense part, but nobody really noticed it because people are slow to change their opinions on how good perimeter defenders are  (even GMs — seriously, guys?), and the Heat’s offense got LeBron the ball in positions where he had a deep post-up or an outright layup or dunk, minimizing the need for him to slice all the way through defenses like he did in his first stint with the Cavs.

The point here is that even though LeBron’s crazy dunks are probably gone, he’s still a player capable of doing insane, insane things, and we should appreciate them.

(I’d say I’d like to see more of the kind of action we get at the 2:10 mark of the above video, where LeBron gets an easy layup after catching Lance Stephenson cheating a screen, but that play was entirely thanks to Al Jefferson. His man is setting a screen, LeBron is basically scratching his back, and he’s just standing still and staring straight ahead, thinking about muffins. Never change, Big Al.)

The Point Four-ward: Catch Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

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Four points I’m thinking about the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers…

First off, if you haven’t read Ben’s excellent recap of last night’s big come from behind win against the Raptors, what are you waiting for??

1.) Read the following quote from Cavs head coach David Blatt:

“I think it’s important that you know how to catch yourself. We didn’t have an easy time in the first half and we caught ourselves at halftime. We recognized what we were doing wrong and what we needed to improve and we did that. We had very little defensive intensity.”

Now, tell me, what game that came from.

Okay, it’s not like it was so long ago. That was Blatt speaking after the Cavs 110-88 win in Brooklyn on Monday night. But it could have easily come from last night’s win against the Raptors, as well.

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Recap: Cavs 110, Nets 88 (or, Prince and Princess, meet the King)

Monday, December 8th, 2014

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Brook Lopez (back) and Joe Johnson (illness) sat out for the Nets and the Cavs rode a monster third quarter — and Dion Waiters’s best game of the season — to an easy win, their seventh in a row, Monday night in Brooklyn.

Here’s what happened:

1st Quarter:

The Cavs looked to Kevin Love early again and he responded scoring the team’s first four points. But the Cavs were practically inviting the Nets to score around the basket and LeBron James was sluggish early. His first shot was a long three that barely made it there. Then, after Allan Anderson beat LeBron James and Shawn Marion in transition leading the Cavs to call a quick time-out, James air-balled a three.

Love continued to be the Cavs’ only steady hand on offense, as the 6-10 power forward used an even mixture of post moves and outside shooting to account for 15 of the Cavs eventual 22 first quarter points.

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An offensive set to be thankful for

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving, campers. This Thursday, since it’s a holiday, I’ll spare you my weekly 2,000 word screed on what I’d like to see the Cavs doing and just show you a perfect example of the Cavs doing exactly what I’ve been begging them to do all season long.

Hopefully, the above video above (which comes from @DawkinsMTA, who runs the best NBA YouTube channel out there) is set to the appropriate time, but since I have no idea how to do that, skip to the 3:55 mark if it starts from the beginning. This is how a 2014-15 Cavalier offensive set should look.

STEP 1: The play here is a simple 3-1 pick and roll, which was a staple of the Heat offense when LeBron played there and has been an attempted staple of the Cavalier offense this season. It’s a very effective set, since not many teams can have a 250-pound man as the ball-handler on the pick-and-roll. The problem with it so far for the Cavaliers has been that Kyrie has been setting nonchalant screens, so instead of a 3-1 pick-and-roll it’s “Kyrie and LeBron waste 8 seconds of the shot clock while standing near each other.”

On this play, however, Kyrie sets a screen like a guy who was born in Australia, not like a guy who went to Duke. LeBron’s man can’t fight over the screen fast enough, and LeBron has a lane to the basket. Now the Wizards are on the back foot, and good things can happen organically. That’s what a successful offensive set does.

STEP 2: Marcin Gortat makes a nice rotation to keep LeBron from getting an easy finish on the drive, and Kris Humphries rotates down to keep LeBron from having a pass to Thompson for an easy dunk. This leaves Joe Harris open for an above-the-break 3, and LeBron fires the pass to him.

STEP 3: Since Harris is a 3-point threat who has to be respected, Kyrie’s man leaves him to contest what would be a wide-open 3. Harris, without so much as putting the ball on the floor, swings the ball to Kyrie, who’s open at the top of the 3-point arc. This forces Dion Waiters’ man to leave Waiters alone in the corner and close out on Kyrie at full speed.

STEP 4: Kyrie now has two options: Hit Waiters with a pass that would set him up with an open 3, or decimate the ankles of a defender who has to run at him full-speed, and thus has no real chance of staying in front of one of the best ballhandlers in basketball. Kyrie goes with option B, and goes from left to right with a behind-the-back dribble on his man.

STEP 5: Kyrie is now between the top of the key and the free throw line, with options. He can pull up on his man for a mid-range jumper, which isn’t a terrible shot, but isn’t a great one. There’s still enough room between Waiters and his man for a three if Kyrie fires a pass to his right side. But the best option is the one Kyrie goes with — since Kyrie’s crossover forced Humphries to step into the middle of the lane to prevent Kyrie from getting a layup on a potential blow-by, LeBron is now open just under the basket, on the left side. In a flash, Kyrie picks up his dribble and hits LeBron with a bullet pass in one fluid motion. Now LeBron’s got a layup, and he even gets an and-1 out of the deal.

That’s what we’re talking about here — spacing, guys working together, multiple good options created by actions, and LeBron and Kyrie using their respective talents to make life easier on each other. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

The Case for Citizen Sans

Friday, November 21st, 2014

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In a press release for Citizen Kane, Orson Welles described the film as an examination of one man’s character.  That “six or more people could have as many widely divergent opinions concerning the nature of a single personality. Clearly such a notion could not be worked out if it would apply to an ordinary American citizen.”  Dan Gilbert is everything but ordinary, and few owners in sports create such divergent opinions.

As a litmus test for this article, I posted a question on my Facebook asking for opinions on Gilbert. Good and bad. The anti-Gilbert responses ranged from “he’s a classless cry-baby,” and “a giant tool,” to him being the primary reason that former commissioner David Stern vetoed the Chris Paul deal to the Lakers, as if he were the Illuminati puppet master who secretly pulls the strings behind the leagues moves.  The pro-Gilbert side defended his investments in the Rust Belt, the open pocket book he runs his franchise with and his commitment to charity. Either way, people knew who Gilbert was. If I would have asked a similar question about Peter Holt or Wyc Grousbeck, there probably wouldn’t have been a single response.

“Really Charles, people will think-” – Emily Monroe Norton

“-What I tell them to think.” – Charles Foster Kane

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A Grumpy Man and No Untouchables

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

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Make sure to go read Robert Attenwieler’s “Point Four-Ward” from earlier today. Play his recreating the 2007 Cavs Finals roster game.

LeBron might be just like a grandpa at the age of 29. He’s griped about Kyrie Irving not getting assists, the team lacking focus, and guys not playing good defense in less than a four week time span. Now, he thinks he’s playing too many minutes. Joe Vardon of the Northeast Ohio Media Group has LeBron’s thoughts on playing the third most minutes a night in the NBA.

“For me, I don’t want to do that all year,” James said. “Obviously right now it’s difficult because we’re trying to find a groove and we’re trying to find a rhythm and we’re trying to find something that you can’t really, you don’t want to shortcut it but at the same time you gotta be smart about it.”

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The Point Four-ward: Brewer(y) Tour

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

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Four points I’m thinking about the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) Over the weekend, reports surfaced that the Cavs were interested in trading for Corey Brewer of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Cavs have the trade exception they acquired in the Keith Bogans merry-go-round and, therefore, would not have to include a player in the trade. The Wolves are said to be looking for “future assets” in exchange for freeing up their glut on the wing and the Houston Rockets have also been listed as a potential trade partner. The Cavs roster stands at 15 right now, so if they don’t include a player in the trade, one would have to be released.

If this trade happens, Brewer likely slides right into the starting lineup, moving Shawn Marion back to the bench. At 6-9, Brewer brings tremendous length to both the shooting guard and small forward spots. Outside of being Kevin Love’s preferred touchdown target for his outlet passes, Brewer has never been known for his offense. He’s never developed into even an average three-point shooter (29% for his career), but he has a tendency to find ways to contribute across the box score.

2.) The Cavs interest in Brewer seems to come down to two things: a.) his relationship with Love and b.) the Cavs front office realizing that their defense is even worse off than they thought coming into the season.

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Recap: Cavs 127, Hawks 94 (Or, Gaze in Awe at the Meteor Shower)

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

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The Hawks are a good team.  With a healthy Al Horford, a Spursian offense, and one of the best starting 5s in the East, this figured to be a tough challenge for the Cavaliers, who miraculously survived a much-less-talented Celtics squad last night.  The Cavs made their first six threes but could seemingly do nothing to stop the Hawks’ dribble penetration.  With three minutes left in the quarter the Cavs led just 24-21, despite converting 6/6 from downtown.  LeBron was involved in everything.  Then Coach Blatt sat LeBron down and I thought “this is gonna get ugly”.  It did.  For the Hawks.  The Cavs went on a 41-8 run, threw a lead anvil on the gas pedal, and started setting all-time records.

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